ExactCAD Software Installation

We will begin with an overview flowchart of the install system. You may want to refer to this flowchart as you follow the instructions below:

1.      Download the installation zip file from www.exactcad.com/downloads. You can get the download in either 7zip or standard zip formats.

 2.      Choose a location on your computer to install (not just unzip) the software. For example, you could use C:\ExactCAD. The location does not matter. Note that you will use the install path in a moment, so be sure you know where this location is. (If you ever need to move the install to a different location, just repeat these steps in the new location.)

 It is best to not install the files on the Windows Desktop, and it is best to not have any spaces in the directory name (or other directories in the path) you use for the installation. For example, don’t use

 C:\ExactCAD Software Files

 If you want to use a long name like that, add underscores to the name, like this:


 The files can be installed on a local or network drive. We recommend putting them in C:\ExactCAD, or on a network drive where your Xpedition library is stored.

 None of the ExactCAD tools require a Windows installer. There are no additional .dll files to install, and no hooks into the operating system. The files run completely autonomously, and can be run at any time from any location without affecting the operating system or being affected by it.

 3.      Unzip the install files in the folder you have chosen. If you had unzipped them in C:\ExactCAD, you would then see these files when viewing the folder in Windows Explorer:

 4.      Set the EXACTCAD_PATH environment variable:

 Note: if you are unfamiliar with environment variables or are unsure how to set them and what they do, it may be best to contact your system administrator for help with this process. 

If you do not have a system administrator, feel free to contact us at ExactCAD, and we’ll be happy to walk you through the process.


  • In Windows Explorer, right click This PC and select Properties.



  • On the left side of the System Properties window, select Advanced system settings:



  • Select Environment Variables in the Advanced System Properties dialog:



  • In the Environment Variables dialog, select New under System variables.
  • In the New Variable dialog, in the Variable name field, enter EXACTCAD_PATH
  • In the Variable value field, enter the path where you will install the ExactCAD software. Following the example above, you could use C:\ExactCAD
  • While you are in the Environment Variables dialog, you will need to look at the WDIR variable and decide how to proceed with your installation. See the next step for more information.

5.      Decide which scripts.ini file you will modify for your installation:

 It’s important to understand how the WDIR environment variable works and what it does. 

 Mentor Graphics software makes use of the WDIR variable for a number of reasons. In this case, the WDIR variable tells the Mentor tools where to look for the scripts.ini files. The scripts.ini files contain pointers to the script files that will load all the ExactCAD tools and hotkeys whenever Mentor software is started. Your system configuration may use more than one, and there is a purpose and structure for how and why you would want to use them.

 The basic idea is that settings, custom menus, and hotkeys can be defined at different levels. Generally these levels are used in the following order: 

1.      System

2.      Group

3.      User

In this case, system refers to the Mentor Graphics software system. There is a standard file directory in the Mentor install tree where they put items that will be included with every installation of their software and can be considered standard parts of their software. The reason it exists is so that there is a default location for settings to be stored with a basic software installation in the absence of any other WDIR locations. For our purposes, we will not make use of this area and in general not worry too much about it.

Group settings and startup files would be used in any situation where there are multiple users, and there is a desire to have common settings, menus, and hotkeys established for all of them. This helps to ensure that all users in a company or on a team are using the Mentor software in a consistent manner, and that procedures and settings which affect design output are consistent throughout the team.

User settings come into play because every designer has a unique style, likes their own way of doing things, and may prefer to automate or set up the Mentor software according to their own tastes. The way this all works, it’s possible to have both group and user settings working side by side. Group standards can be maintained and each user has some flexibility to set up the system as they like.

The WDIR variable, and multiple locations for startup files work together to make this possible.

The value of the WDIR variable is a list of directory paths. Each path points to a file system location on a computer or network. In the text of the WDIR variable value, each path is separated by a semicolon. Here’s an example:


Let’s look at each entry:

1.      C:\Mentor_Projects\WDIR\EEVX_2_4

 This a user WDIR location. It is on the local computer. This is where any customizations that will only affect the user of the local computer, and no one else in the group, will be done.

 2.      X:\LIB\MGC\WDIR

 This is a group WDIR location. This is where any settings and customizations that would affect all users in the group will be done.

The 3.      C:\MentorGraphics\EEVX.2.4\SDD_HOME\standard

 This is the Mentor system WDIR location. It is the default Mentor system location. For our purposes it can be ignored or even omitted, because we will have either corporate or user locations defined, which will capture and maintain all preferences, settings, customizations, and hotkey setups. 

It’s important to know that there is an order to the different items in the WDIR variable, and the order matters. When Mentor tools start, they all read the value of WDIRThe directory paths are read from right to left, meaning the last one (farthest to the right) in the list is read first, and the first one (farthest to the left) is read last. Settings in the setup files in each location add to and override settings read in the previous locations, with some exceptions.

 The result of this is the ExactCAD software tools can be installed for the use of just one designer, or for an entire team, all at once, without having to go visit every user’s computer, depending on which scripts.ini file is used to load the ExactCAD startup scripts.

 If you want to install the ExactCAD tools for a single user, it would be most appropriate to use the scripts.ini file in the local computer’s WDIR path. 

 If installing for a group, and your group administrator already has a group WDIR location defined, it would be best to use that location.

 If there is no scripts.ini file in the WDIR location you want to use, you will need to create one.

 The file name cannot be changed. It must be scripts.ini. If the name is changed, the Mentor software tools will not read it when they start up and anything in it will be ignored.

6.      Once you have decided which WDIR location to use for ExactCAD software, you are ready to either create a new scripts.ini file (if there isn’t already one there) or modify the existing scripts.ini file in that location.

There is a sample scripts.ini file in the zip file you downloaded with the ExactCAD software. You can use it as an example of how to add the ExactCAD startup scripts. The sample file assumes there is already a file and demonstrates how to add the additional entries.

In this example, there are two existing script files in the Expedition section. Script#0 and Script#1. We add the two for the ExactCAD tools as Script#2 and Script#3. We also add an entry for Drawing Editor. The script numbers (#0, #1, etc.) in each section must begin with 0 and proceed consecutively in numeric order.

 If there are no existing entries, add the two ExactCAD entries as shown, using Script#0 and Script#1, and the install path you chose earlier.

 We will cover the contents and purposes of the ExactCAD startup script files in a moment.

 At this point, with the environment variable set, and your scripts.ini file modified, and the files unzipped as shown, you should be able to start Xpedition and see the ExactCAD menu in the menu bar.

7.      Setup Licensing:

 To use the ExactCAD software tools, you will need to get a license code. If you are installing for the first time, and want to test the software, you can get a limited time trial license. If you do not already have a license code, contact ExactCAD at the following email address to request one:


 We will generate a license code for you which will enable you to use all the ExactCAD tools, with no restrictions, for the length of your trial period.

 When you get the license code, you will use the ExactCAD Licensing tool to activate the license.

 In the directory where you unzipped the downloaded file, there should be a \bin directory. It contains all the ExactCAD programs. One of the subdirectories in \bin is called \exactcad_licensing. Using Windows Explorer, navigate into this directory and run ExactCAD_Licensing.exe by double clicking it, or selecting it and pressing the Enter key on your keyboard. You will then see the ExactCAD Licensing program:

If we ask you to supply a user data code or machine code to generate your license, you will use the Get User Data Code or Get Machine Code buttons in this tool to get those codes. You would then send us those codes in an email, and we will use them to make your license and email your license code back to you.

Copy the license code from the email we send you and paste it into the box just below the Paste License Code: label, then press the Apply License button. All the ExactCAD tools should now work when you select them from the ExactCAD menu in Xpedition.

If you care to know how the licensing tool works, read on. If not, skip down to step 8.

All the licensing tool does is create a text file in the User App Data folder. This folder is on your computer at the following path:

C:\Users\<your username>\AppData\LocalExactCAD\Exactcad_License.txt

You can open the file with any text editor to see what’s inside. The license code is an encoded string of data that contains all the information about your license, such as user data, machine code, and the termination date of your license subscription. If you view this file in a text editor, be careful to not change it in any way, or it will stop working. If for some reason it does get changed or corrupted, use the Licensing tool again; paste the code from your email and apply it like you did when you got the code. Everything should start working again.


8.      Xpedition & Drawing Editor startup script files:

The Load_Expedition_ExactCAD_menu.vbs script file loads the ExactCAD menu in Xpedition. If you have set the EXACTCAD_PATH environment variable correctly, you should not need to edit this file. It queries the system environment, reads the value of the EXACTCAD_PATH variable, and uses that to set up all the pointers to the ExactCAD programs for the ExactCAD menu. 

The Load_Drawing_Editor_ExactCAD_menu.vbs file works in a similar fashion.

Take note that not all the ExactCAD tools appear on the ExactCAD menu. The Align, Move With Basepoint, and RF/Power Pin Exit tools both work by way of hotkeys. There is more information on hotkeys in the next section.

9.      Hotkey Setup:

The use of hotkeys is integral to the ExactCAD design philosophy. We understand that designers have all kinds of ways of doing things. Some designers like to use the menus at the top of the screen. Some like to use the toolbar buttons for everything. Some like the right-click menu. 

We like hotkeys because they are faster and involve less physical and visual effort than either menus or toolbar buttons. We believe that the fewer mouse clicks a designer makes, the better. The fewer movements with the mouse, the better. The use of hotkeys also takes advantage of muscle memory. All of these things contribute to greater productivity and less fatigue.

As we mentioned above, Align and Move with Basepoint work with hotkeys. At a minimum, you will need to choose hotkeys for those tools, and configure the key bindings file accordingly. 

In the bin directory of the ExactCAD installation, there is a hotkeys directory. In this directory you will find many many .vbs files. Each of them is a script file that does something in Xpedition or Drawing Editor. For the minimum set up of Align and Move With Basepoint, take the following steps:

1.      Choose hotkeys for Align, Move With Basepoint, and RF/Power Pin Exit. The hotkeys can be any single letter, number, or function key. They could also be a letter, number, or function key with either SHIFT, CTRL, or ALT modifiers. At ExactCAD, we use the letter ‘a’ for Align, ‘m’ for Move With Basepoint, and ‘p’ for Add RF/Power Pin Exit. You can use whatever you want, but make sure you don’t choose something that’s already in use if you have your own existing hotkeys set up in your environment.

2.      Once you have decided on which hotkeys to use for Align, Move With Basepoint work with hotkeys. At a minimum, you will need to choose hotkeys for those tools, and configure the key bindings file accordingly. Look for the entries in this file that look like the following:

In the \bin directory of the ExactCAD installation, there is a \hotkeys directory, and RF/Power Pin Exit, open the key_bindings.vbs file with any text editor.

Here you can see that the letters ‘a’ and ‘A’ are used for Align, ‘m’ and ‘M’ are used for Move With Basepoint, and ‘p’ and ‘P’ are used for RF/Power Pin Exit. If you look through the rest of the file, you can see examples of the use of other letters, numbers, function keys, and Shift, Ctrl, and Alt modifications to them.

Edit the file by replacing the “a”, “A”, “m”, “M”, “p”, and “P” with the hotkeys you want to use for Align, Move With Basepoint, and RF/Power Pin Exit. Save and close the file. The next time you open Xpedition, the new hotkeys will be active.

3.      Now what about all the rest of the hotkey scripts we have included . . . There is a lot going on there. First take a look at the HotKey function Printout.docx file. It has a list of the hotkeys we normally use and the script functions that go with them. You may or may not want to use these scripts. You may want to use them but assign them to different hotkeys. They are provided along with the rest of the ExactCAD tools for your benefit. You are free to use them as you wish, modify them, send them to your friends, or whatever you want to do with them. It is not practical for us to license them in the same way we do the rest of the ExactCAD tools, so we’re not going to try. It will be up to you to modify the key_bindings.vbs file as you wish to make use of the extra scripts as you see fit.

This concludes the ExactCAD software Installation. If you have any problems installing the software or configuring the setup, please contact us by email at exactcad@exactcad.com. We will do our best to help you get up and running quickly.